Billy Durant (l) and Dallas Dort. Photos courtesy Lawrence L. Gustin.
If you’re a longtime reader of the Hemmings titles, Lawrence L. Gustin should be a familiar name. A career reporter and editor of the Flint Journal in Michigan, he enjoyed a second career as assistant national public relations director for Buick. Along the way, he authored several acclaimed books about the automotive history of his hometown, including biographies of Billy Durant and David Dunbar Buick that are considered definitive today.
Margery Durant, Billy’s daughter, in a 1905 Buick Model C.
Getting those books published required an enormous amount of research. Larry accumulated, by his own estimate, about nine huge boxes of personal papers, photos and other treasures, which he’s now donated as a collection to the Alfred P. Sloan Museum in Flint. Among the artifacts are scores of personal letters and journals written by Durant both before and after he founded General Motors and then was twice sacked as its leader. Larry told us that in addition to his business correspondence and autobiographical notes, the collection includes letters between Durant and his wife, and with personalities such as Pierre S. du Pont, a major GM investor who succeeded Durant as president. David Buick’s biographical materials are also part of the collection, as are historical films that feature Flint and the early auto industry.
Researchers will be able to access the Gustin collection once archivists and curators can inventory and catalogue the items. To keep up with that process, visit SloanLongway.org.